There are no good internet routers. It seems that all these devices suffer from a nameless epidemic: for unpredictable reasons, the owner is forced to reboot the modem once a day/week. Unpredictability infuriates: today your “zixel” or “long” everything is fine, but tomorrow some problem appears out of nowhere. And you will not understand who is to blame – the provider or the router.

Dancing with a tambourine around another Taiwanese “crafts” pissed me off, and on the same day I returned home with AirPort Express. Since then I have not accepted anything else. Because AirPort is the only router that just works. Stuck and really forgot!

Technicians in a panic

A very important introduction. I guarantee there will be a lot of anger in the comments to the review. For some reason, it seems to me that it already overwhelms some readers! The owners of impossibly cool “Mikrotiks” with twenty-five Linux on board will explain for a long time why AirPort Express is very bad. Economical users of shaitan-boxes from D-link and Zyxel will look for the advantages of their crafts in terms of functions, technical characteristics and other tinsel. I will not argue with them, but I will answer with statistics.

I have two AirPort Express in two different cities, on the lines of different providers. The first one I bought and set up a year ago. Since then, it has not shut down or rebooted. NEVER. Twelve-odd months of continuous work. From such results, any “dlink” immediately explodes and burns, scattering sparks of cheap plastic. The second modem was first connected three months ago – it also lies quietly and does not require a reset.

From 7 to 12 completely different devices are connected to each of the routers. Everyone goes online simultaneously, something is constantly downloaded, the channel is loaded, and so on. And it’s all right. If there were problems with the connection, it was only for two reasons: work on the provider’s line or a power outage in the house. The rest of the time – 100% return and exactly zero problems.

The stable operation of AirPort forced me to generally score on the router as a device. He “hung” on the outlet at the entrance to the apartment, and the rest did not bother me. I even forgot about reviewwhich I planned to do last spring 🙂 Finally, I’m catching up.

What is AirPort and why is it good

The best quality AirPort Express – not a pretty glossy white case, not convenient setup directly from iOS, and not even an “apple” on the back cover. Unlike most routers on the market, in this model, Apple traditionally did not stint on spare parts and installed very powerful components, including a “hardy” processor that normally withstands rapid load drops. Apple clearly wanted to make such a router that it would bring a minimum of headache to its owners – and, with the exception of a couple of moments, everything turns out that way.

The AirPort package is spartan: a nicely folded power cord and a router. No external antennas, no Ethernet cable. Apple expects every self-respecting person to have the latter, but I don’t understand at all why the company can’t afford to add at least a one and a half meter lace, which costs miserable cents in production. Anyway.

AirPort in its most recent reincarnation has become very similar to the Apple TV, and this is both good and not very good. The previous version was more like a large adapter for charging equipment and just plugged into a power outlet. Here we are looking at a cute, short and medium-sized “pancake” with an unexpectedly high weight. In terms of size, it corresponds to Apple TV of previous generations, before the reduction of the case.

There are five ports on the back: for the power cord, Ethernet in and out, a USB port for a printer (and nothing else), and a 3.5mm audio input. The latter is a hidden and little-known feature of the AirPort Express, which the “big brother” Extreme cannot boast of. If desired, this router can be used as AirPlay audio receiver. By connecting external speakers through the “minijack”, you turn any speakers into a wireless audio system. So if you have the opportunity, plan to place your AirPort near your home theater. Kill two birds with one stone.

I am also glad that the router does not have an external power supply. This allows you to place the device with much more freedom: for example, I managed to install my AirPort vertically using a euro adapter from the original charger to the iPad. To my surprise, everything fit right in.

As I said, AirPort Express is of high quality hardware. Even under the most powerful load (several computers with active downloads via torrent networks), the operation of other devices does not suffer much, and the router itself does not reboot from overheating and does not require an emergency shutdown / on.

Another interesting thing: AirPort Express does not have a remote antenna. It is installed inside the case. Closeness affects the range of the modem, but not as critical as I initially expected. Experience has shown that one AirPort Express can cover even a five-room, two-story apartment. In large and private houses, it makes sense to immediately place the “older” model, AirPort Extreme – the power of its antennas is significantly higher.

How to set up and optimize AirPort

An important difference between the Apple router and others: it does not have a traditional “web interface”. Configuration and modification is available only through AirPort programs (available for iOS, Mac, and Windows). Accordingly, for the initial setup, you must own either an iOS device or a Mac. In principle, a regular computer with Windows and a pre-loaded AirPort utility will do. Airport Manager is preinstalled on all Mac models, so only Windows PC owners need to download anything in advance.

Owners of iPhones and iPads can carry out the initial configuration of the station without additional software. To do this, in iOS, just open the Settings -> Wi-Fi menu, which will display a Wi-Fi point from a freshly purchased Apple modem. When you connect to it, the “set up an AirPort base station” dialog will appear – that’s what you need. The process there is trivial, understandable to a person without extensive knowledge on the topic: you simply configure the Wi-Fi signal parameters to protect it from external access before a full setup.

Regardless of platform, AirPort Utility changes all available features and settings on the router. I draw the attention of the “kulibins” and jailbreak lovers: the Apple modem does not have any hidden functions, the ability to install third-party firmware or just dig into it. Everything you see is everything you get.

Setting up an AirPort for a specific ISP is no easy task, and it’s not Apple’s fault. In Russia, this equipment is not much favored and often do not post notes on it in the technical support section. Accordingly, you may need to call the hotline yourself and shake instructions from the operators specifically for the “airport” (example). Personally, I was lucky twice: two small regional providers provided fairly detailed instructions for setting up AirPort directly on the official website. But I’ve heard otherwise, so I’ll warn you in advance.

As soon as you enter the necessary data and check the boxes where required, the LED on the router will turn green along with the activation of Internet access. In principle, the whole process can be stopped at this point. But I recommend “finishing off” the parameters and configuring one specific parameter yourself: Wi-Fi signal channels.

By setting the “correct” channel, you will speed up data transfer and increase connection stability. Mac users can find the Wireless Diagnostics app in Spotlight to find the best option. In the window that opens, you do not need to touch anything. From the top context menu, select Window -> Scan, then click Scan. The side list will display the two most free channels – these are the ones you need to select in the AirPort settings. This is especially important for 2.4 GHz frequencies.

Capricious Compatibility

A year ago, before buying the very first AirPort Express, I asked the seller. Like, will the router work in the networks of a specifically named provider? Answer “is not a fact” made me think. At home, I began to study the issue and found out: the Apple modem is far from always supported by Russian providers.

The easiest and best way to find out is to call your ISP’s support team and find out what complexities or setup issues await the owner of an AirPort Express or Extreme. The problem is that both devices do not support L2TP protocol, which is the main one for several fairly large Russian providers. Among them is Beeline. Accordingly, it is impossible to use AirPort in its networks without additional equipment – and it in itself makes the whole idea meaningless. Other companies, including the semi-state Rostelecom, are more likely to use PPoE, which is normally supported by an Apple router.

Other restrictions – lack of VPN and UPnP support. In a year of use, I have not seen a single situation where any device refused to work or go online via AirPort. But if you use complex network configurations in your own apartment, then an Apple router may not really be the best solution. It was created with a completely different goal: to provide an uninterrupted and hassle-free, powerful and stable Internet connection within a small office or apartment – and is intended for those who want to forget about setting up network settings forever.

In any case, alternatives to AirPort as such No. This is exactly the same story as with the iPhone and Android smartphones in 2012. Do you want to dig and probably suffer, but to get maximum control over the router at the cost of its stable operation? Then thousands of assorted models with a huge variety of characteristics are at your service. And if you want to turn it on, set it up and forget it, getting a stable, powerful and uninterrupted “connection” from the router, then you only need to choose AirPort and a full stop. Having moved to the capital, I chose not a router for a provider, but a provider for a router;)

What is the difference between AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme

First, the size. If the AirPort Express is a tidy mini set-top box, the Extreme is a mega-tube that you can’t hide anywhere. Inside the “extreme” are components with a total weight of 1 kilogram! If anything, that’s more than an 11-inch MacBook Air weighs. The first acquaintance with the large version of my router made me think. With such and such dimensions, maybe it’s easier to take the Time Capsule right away? The price of the latter, however, quickly made me change my mind.

The AirPort Extreme has three Ethernet ports per output, while the Express has only one. For those who take the router as a Wi-Fi transmitter, “express” will be more than enough. But if you are going to connect several computers via cable, you will have to look at the older model. The Extreme also has gigabit Ethernet ports, while the Express only has 100-megabit ports. For the “Internet” this is not important, but local networks will work through the “extreme” much faster.

An important point for owners of the latest Apple devices. AirPort Extreme supports 802.11ac networks, which are theoretically 4 times faster than the current 802.11n standard. This function is available in Russia with specific restrictions: only two of the four signal broadcast channels can be used. According to the owners, this does not really change anything. All Macs have been supporting 802.11ac since mid-2013, and there aren’t many compatible iOS devices yet: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3.

One of the key features of AirPort Extreme compared to Express is that it is much more powerful internal antenna system. They not only provide more coverage, but also support a very interesting feature. adaptive beamforming. The router literally controls the location of gadgets connected according to the 802.11ac standard and sends a signal in their direction. As you already understand, for this you need to have an appropriate laptop or smartphone, and there are not many of them yet.

The USB port on AirPort Express does not support connecting external media, including hard drives. Not at all, under any “sauce”. Only the cable from the printer can be inserted there to make the latter a network one. The ability to connect flash drives and HDD is only in the Extreme model. But Express is able to receive AirPlay audio from any compatible device, outputting it through the “minijack” on the rear panel – for example, to ordinary home acoustics. This feature is not available in the AirPort Extreme.

Finally, both devices cannot be complete NAS-servers. AirPort can only complement, but not replace, NAS equipment for those who like to store downloads from torrent trackers 😉

iPhone in the world of routers

AirPort Express One of my best purchases last year. Thanks to this router, I forgot about the problems with accessing the Network and still have not remembered. More no need nothing to reload. No need to call technical support and find out on whose side the problem arose. If there is no Internet, then the problem is with the provider. If there is, then on more than a dozen of the most diverse devices in the house, at the same time uninterruptedly.

AirPort Express suitable for watching movies in the highest quality through iTunes and any streaming services. It does not fail during hot multiplayer battles anywhere – whether on PC or modern game consoles. The Apple router does not require additional configuration, maintenance, and does not attract attention. Just like Jobs bequeathed it just works. It just works the way it should.

Choosing a specific model AirPort you need to ask yourself the following questions. Is one Ethernet port enough for you, or do you want to make a wired network for several computers at home? How big is your apartment or house, considering that one well-installed AirPort Express is definitely enough for 3-5 rooms? Finally, do you need the ability to connect hard drives to a router? Answering these three questions will help you make the right purchase. Personally, I chose twice Express and I just can’t complain about it. Hope it makes life easier for you too!

I sincerely recommend these routers to everyone, not only to Mac users. You pay for the safety of your nerves. And they, as you know, do not recover.

Buy AirPort Express for 7990 rubles

Buy AirPort Extreme for 15990 rubles

Official group VKontakte: VK.com/iPort_Apple

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There are no good internet routers. It seems that all these devices suffer from a nameless epidemic: for unpredictable reasons, the owner is forced to reboot the modem once a day/week. Unpredictability infuriates: today your “zixel” or “long” is doing well, and tomorrow some problem appears out of nowhere. And you will not understand who is to blame – the provider or the router. Dancing with a tambourine around another Taiwanese “crafts” brought …

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